DAILY DOSE: Global debate over deep-sea mining drags on in Jamaica; U.S. senator urges regulation of energy drink.

Global talks in Jamaica are set to focus on the controversial topic of deep-sea mining, following the expiration of a two-year ban due to the failure to establish new regulations. The potential for a rush on undersea precious metals raises concerns about marine life impacts. However, proponents argue that these metals are necessary for the development of green technologies. The controversy ignited when Nauru formally requested a commercial license to mine from the International Seabed Authority (ISA), starting a two-year application review countdown. Despite ongoing meetings to establish regulations on environmental oversight and royalty distribution, progress remains elusive. The opposition to commercial deep-sea mining has grown with nearly 200 countries requesting a pause on it due to environmental risks. A vote on a new ban is expected in the upcoming weeks. Meanwhile, marine scientists and conservation organizations express concern over the potential impact on deep-sea ecosystems. Despite these controversies, the ISA has issued 31 exploration contracts to companies backed by 14 countries, and nations are free to explore within their waters. Critics note that while the sea holds abundant resources, geopolitical challenges persist. (BBC)

In June, 11-year-old trans girl Flower Nichols and her mother journeyed from Indianapolis to Chicago, seeking medical care after Indiana’s new law banned puberty blockers for trans minors. Despite some states blocking parts of these restrictive laws, many families, like the Nichols, scramble to secure necessary treatment, navigating new legislation accusing them of child abuse for supporting their trans children. Their Chicago trip, designed to be a pleasant memory, became a symbol of resilience against the odds. Their story echoes the experiences of other families in states like Mississippi, where a father and son had to relocate to Virginia to maintain health care access. Amid legislative battles and societal norms, these stories highlight the unwavering resilience, love, and advocacy of families trying to provide the best for their children, while creating spaces of joy and normalcy in challenging circumstances. (Associated Press)

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US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has urged regulators to probe Prime Energy, an energy drink promoted by YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul, alleging it targets children despite its high caffeine content. Prime Energy contains 200mg of caffeine per can, about twice that of Red Bull. While each can carries an ’18+’ warning, Schumer claims Prime Energy’s packaging and marketing closely resemble a caffeine-free drink from the same brand, leading to parental confusion. He has called on the FDA to investigate the company’s marketing strategies, particularly targeting children on social media. Some schools globally have warned about or banned Prime drinks due to health concerns. The company, which launched the caffeine-free Prime Hydration in 2022 and the caffeinated version in 2023, has yet to respond. (BBC)

Japan’s Beppu Bay, along with eleven other sites worldwide, is being considered for designation as a “golden spike”, symbolizing a new geological epoch defined by human impact: The Anthropocene. Scientists are debating whether the Holocene epoch has been superseded by a new period, characterized by human-induced environmental changes such as nuclear contamination and microplastic pollution. Beppu Bay, a potential golden spike location, carries layered sediment that documents human influence on the environment, acting as an archive of anthropogenic activity. Its unique characteristics, including a lack of oxygen preventing sediment disturbance and the accumulation of material due to basin-like topography, allow scientists to trace the exact Anthropocene-Holocene boundary. The sediment includes evidence of agricultural runoff, historical floods, fish scales, plastics, and radiation from nuclear bomb tests. Researchers hope that the official recognition of the Anthropocene will serve as a wake-up call for humanity about irreversible environmental degradation. (Channel News Asia)

STUDY HIGHLIGHT: In this work, Roche et al. study a 13-year long time series of microbiome samples from wild baboons from Kenya. This data allows disentangling ecological dynamics within and across individuals in a way that has never been done before. The authors show that the ecological relationships among baboon gut bacteria, measured through a correlation based on covariation, are largely universal (similar within and across host individuals) and that the most universally covarying taxa are almost always positively associated with each other. This work is foundational in its compelling effort to generate a rigorous method to evaluate co-abundance dynamics in longitudinal microbiome data. The approach taken will likely inspire developments that will sharpen the capacity to extract co-varying microbial features, taking into account seasonality, diet, age, relatedness, and more. (eLife)

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

WORDS: The Biology Guy. (@thebiologyguy)

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